10 Proven Hacks to Fix Smelly Shoes

Have you ever returned home and taken off your shoes only to be met with a horrid smell that seems to be stained into your shoes? It sucks, I know. But it’s even worse when your stinky shoes are out in public as people wrinkle their noses, while you desperately stand still and avoid eye contact.

In general, shoe odor is caused by bacteria that is created in the warm and sweaty breeding ground in your shoes. This happens to your feet in particular because your feet are tightly wrapped by your socks and shoes on a daily basis without having room to breathe. Bacteria loves dark, damp places, which is why they flourish in your shoes. 

For those who sweat less, consider yourselves lucky.  For everyone else, no need to worry–we’ve figured out how to get rid of smelly feet to make your life more pleasant!

Try any of these ten proven smelly shoe remedies:

1. Keep your feet, socks, and shoes dry.

After you thoroughly wash your feet with antibacterial soap, make sure to wipe them completely dry with a clean towel. Don’t forget your toes! Water tends to get stuck in between your toes, often causing a damp environment if you put wet feet in your socks, and eventually into your shoes. 

Make sure to also put on a clean, dry pair of socks before placing them into your shoes. Leftover moisture from previous times could be the culprit too. The main goal here is to avoid damp feet or socks to prevent bacteria from growing and eliminate foot odor by creating clean, dry conditions to prevent bacterial growth

2. Use cedarwood on stinky shoes.

Cedarwood is fantastic for getting rid of stink while keeping your shoes dry because of its antioxidant, antibiotic, and anti-inflammatory properties. It also creates a pleasant woody smell too! Replacing the worn fabric sole you currently use with a cedarwood-based sole can be effective on how to fix smelly shoes because it prevents moisture and bacteria. 

You can also use a shoe tree made out of cedarwood to put into your shoes when you aren’t wearing them, which can block moisture and bacteria.

3. Freeze the smell away.

Remember how bacteria loves damp, warm places? This means that you can kill these bacteria by freezing them. Popping your smelly shoes in the freezer overnight or longer, is a quick, easy way to kill the smell. You can even just freeze your insoles if you think they’re the main culprit, or freeze both for maximum effect. 

4. Use baking soda and vinegar.

 This is another great home remedy. Vinegar is a natural disinfectant due to its high acidic properties, while baking soda’s natural properties help keep the pH balance. Combined together, vinegar and baking soda and can help rid shoes of unpleasant odors in a non-hazardous way.

Take your smelly shoes, fill them with about a cup of baking soda, then a cup of vinegar. It shouldn’t be long before you hear a fizzing sound as the areas bubble up. This is a sign that the agents are killing the bacteria that are deeply stained in your shoe. After waiting for at least 15 minutes, you can take your shoes and rinse the baking soda and vinegar out of them, then leave them out to air-dry overnight.

5. Try using a deodorant or antiperspirant.

Using a foot deodorizer or antiperspirant on your feet can diminish foot odor and get rid of athlete’s foot. Since antiperspirants block the sweat glands on your upper body, it can be used in the same way on your feet by preventing sweat from seeping into your socks and shoes. After properly cleaning your toes and feet with soap and drying them completely, apply an antiperspirant or deodorizer on them. 

The spray will help keep your feet from sweating, which will keep your shoes dry and free of foot odor. If you want to kick it up a notch, get some essential oils to drop into your shoes to create a new, pleasing smell.

6. Use dryer fabric softener sheets.

Fabric softener and dryer sheets are extremely useful on how to get rid of bad odor because they can absorb moisture and act as a deodorizer at the same time. They also smell great! Leaving a fabric softener sheet inside each of your shoes overnight can take away the unwanted moisture and even replace the bad odor with a fresh scent.

7. Place fresh citrus peels into the shoes.

This is a great way to recycle peels from any citrus fruits, such as oranges, limes, lemons, and grapefruits. Place the peels on the soles of your shoes so they can start deodorizing your shoes as they work to replace the odor with a citrusy smell of its own! 

Citrus peels have naturally-antibacterial oils, which help stop the growth of bacteria and mold in your shoes. This is a safe, eco-friendly method on how to get rid of smelly shoes and is practically free!

8. Use baby powder on your feet and shoes.

Baby powder is similar to baking soda in the sense that they’re both able to extract moisture out and also help rid of foul odor. After properly cleaning your feet with anti-bacterial soap and drying them, use baby powder on your before putting on clean socks. 

You can also add baby powder to your insoles and shoes and leave them to absorb the moisture until the next day for maximum effect.

9. Use anti-fungal foot powder.

If your feet tend to sweat a lot or can’t seem to shake off a severe odor, you should consider getting anti-fungal foot powder to tackle the source of stinky shoes and feet. The foot powder contains ingredients that specifically work to kill and prevent fungi that may be appearing on your toes and feet that cause the bad odor. 

Separate your insoles from your shoes to thoroughly cover all surface area. The powder will get rid of the smell but it’ll also restore the health back into your feet.

10. Use rubbing alcohol.

Rubbing alcohol is a strong disinfectant that can strip mold, mildew, and bacteria from your shoes. But the strong chemicals can affect shoe materials differently, so make sure to dilute the rubbing alcohol for sensitive materials. For example, if you are trying to clean leather shoes, use a diluted solution of water and alcohol to lower the potency. 

If you don’t, the alcohol can leach out oils from leather and ultimately damage them. Instead, you should fill a spray bottle with the diluted solution to lightly spray the inside of your shoes to get rid of the shoe odor. You can also use a cotton ball to gently clean the outside of your shoes.

Final Takeaway

Remember: bacteria loves trapped sweat, so keep your feet dry and clean. No matter how many times you use these remedies, it’s also important to note that constant maintenance and upkeep is crucial. Consistency and frequency are key. Another suggestion is to invest in higher quality shoes and breathable socks for your feet so those bad boys can get some air. 

No one wants to be known as the person with smelly shoes, and now you don’t have to be either!